On downsizing the USDA: notes from the Cato Institute

The Cato Institute would like nothing more than to help our misguided Congress as it hashes out a new farm bill in the coming weeks. Since Congress will most likely opt to keep up trade barriers, maybe even erect new ones, and continue ridiculous spending on subsidies and grant programs, we’d like to pay our respects to the eloquent proposal that in all likelihood will die with the passage of another ridiculous bill.

USDA Proposed Spending Cuts
by Chris Edwards
All agricultural and rural subsidies in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s budget should be abolished… Agricultural trade barriers should also be repealed….Forest Service subsidies to the states and private businesses should be ended. Congress should also explore options to transfer the national forests to the states or to new independent trusts that would be self-funded from forest-related receipts.

Under the proposal, the USDA would retain responsibility for animal and plant health inspections, food safety, grain and packing inspections, and conservation activities.”

spending_cuts.jpg 

Our own search through the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance yielded the following ‘necessary’ measures: 

10.081 LAMB MEAT ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
PURPOSE: to provide immediate financial assistance to sheep and lamb producers who have recently experienced low prices and poor market conditions. Payments under this program will provide those who are eligible with an immediate infusion of funds to help pay for operating expenses and meet other financial obligations.
TYPES OF ASSISTANCE: Direct payments with unrestricted use

10.224 FUND FOR RURAL AMERICA_RESEARCH, EDUCATION, AND EXTENSION ACTIVITIES
PURPOSE: provides funds …to aid farmers, ranchers, and rural communities to address changes and challenges facing agriculture and rural communities as a result of fundamental reforms to Federal farm programs.
TYPES OF ASSISTANCE: Project Grants.

10.572 WIC FARMERS’ MARKET NUTRITION PROGRAM
PURPOSE: (1) to provide fresh, nutritious unprepared locally grown fruits and vegetables from farmers markets to [people that aren’t grown men] who participate in [a program that implies that said people value processed and prepared foods]; and (2) to expand the awareness and use of farmers’ markets and increase sales at such markets.
TYPE OF ASSISTANCE: Formula Grants.

10.774 NATIONAL SHEEP INDUSTRY IMPROVEMENT CENTER
PURPOSE: to assist the U.S. sheep and goat industries by strengthening and enhancing the production and marketing of sheep and goats and their products in the United States
TYPES OF ASSISTANCE: Direct Loans; Guaranteed/Insured Loans; Direct Payments for Specified Use; Project Grants.

10.082 TREE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
PURPOSE: to provide assistance to tree, bush and vine owners who have trees, bushes or vines lost by a natural disaster
TYPES OF ASSISTANCE: Direct Payments with Unrestricted Use.

10.454 DAIRY OPTIONS PILOT PROGRAM
PURPOSE: to share the cost of premium for ‘put’ options purchased by DOPP participants and for a portion of the brokers’ fees to conduct and execute transactions. 
TYPES OF ASSISTANCE: Direct Payments for Specified Use

There’s a takeaway in all of this. You’ll never get back the 16 hrs/week spent working to bankroll programs that cause you to pay artificially high prices for food, so maybe its time to consider owning timber and agriculture stocks.

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